Kimberley - It is believed that a security guard, working at the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court, witnessed the apparent suicide of a senior prosecutor in the sexual offences unit, who jumped out of a window on the 11th floor of the building.
Louis Heunis’s body was severed in two when he hit the steel staircase rails next to the building.
The upper half was lying on the stairs at the entrance to the building, while his lower torso and limbs landed on the pavement in Barrister Street.
It is believed that Heunis asked a cleaner how the windows of the building opened, stating that he wanted to take photographs for a case he was working on. The noise of the open window apparently alerted the security guard, who repeatedly asked Heunis to close the window.
Ignoring his requests, Heunis apparently moved closer to the open window, before jumping out.
On Wednesday, the city was still in shock after the tragic incident on Tuesday morning.
“We can’t believe that we have lost him in this sad manner. He did not deserve what happened to him,” some of his colleagues said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they described Heunis as a “fantastic person to work with”.
“I remember thousands of things about him. I remember how we used to eat koeksisters on Fridays. I remember how he participated in community-driven projects in the city. He was a wonderful person to work with and a friend to us all,” one of his colleagues said.
They added that Heunis had “perfect work ethics”.
“He went out of his way to assist us when we needed help. He was a type of a person who believed in doing things now and not waiting for tomorrow,” they added.
Office workers in the area, who were the first people on the scene, said they “had to literally go and fetch the police from the Kimberley Police Station to came and attend to this incident”.
“We called an ambulance and the police when we saw half of the man’s body lying on the pavement but they placed us on hold several times. I eventually drove to the police station myself to alert them,” Tiffany Fortuin said.
She explained that she and her mother, Stephanie Cloete, were at their place of work when they heard a “loud bang” outside.
“We thought that someone had been bumped by a car but when we walked out of our office, we saw the body of a man,” Fortuin explained.
Cloete said that she had earlier seen Heunis at one of the big windows of the building “but I did not think that he was going to jump out”.
Although his death appears to be suicide, the reasons for his action remained unclear on Wednesday. Claims emerged, however, that he was suffering from depression. Heunis was engaged to marry the woman who was carrying his child.
It also emerged that he had made suicide threats several days before he apparently jumped from the building.
Heunis comes from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and has been a prosecutor since 1993.
Northern Cape police on Wednesday denied that officers had to be fetched from the Kimberley Police Station.
“Several police officers were at the court building and attended to the incident immediately. Kimberley detectives were at the scene because they were at court,” police spokeswoman, Colonel Priscilla Naidu, said.
She added that the 10111 centre received a call at 09.35am and a police vehicle was at the scene two minutes later.
“We are investigating an inquest following Heunis’s death. The circumstances leading to the incident is unknown and no foul play is suspected,” Naidu said.
The National Prosecuting Authority in the Northern Cape refused to comment on the incident.
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